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Robots are both fascinating objects for the general public and devices whose conception, understanding and pro- gramming involve many fields. This unique combination makes them an ideal tool for introducing science and technology to children. This paper presents the outcome of a programming workshop held on the occasion of the 2011 EPFL Robotics Festival. This workshop introduced programming using the robot “Thymio II”. The participants enjoyed this workshop very much, and their attitudes suggest that the public is attracted to such events out of interest rather than pure fun or educational concerns. Children appreciated the supervision, characterized by a high staff-per-child ratio of 1/3. We also show that in an hour of tutorial, children were able to acquire concepts such as the sensor or the loading of a program on the robot because they practised these enough. More theoretical and less practised concepts, such as the sensory-motor loop or the programming details, were not well understood. These findings now enable us to create better edutainment material.
For four years a robotics festival has taken place at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), in Switzerland. As the number of visitors has rapidly grown from a few thousands to a dozen thousands, it gives an opportunity to investigate who is attending this event and which impact can be obtained in terms of education and motivation toward understanding science and technology. In the 2011 edition of the festival, a large survey was carried out, collecting data from 3423 visitors. The analysis of the collected data gives an idea about the profile of the people attending the event and the key factors impacting the acceptance of science and technology. Findings show that people of all ages and especially children and families have been attracted. More men than women attended the festival and visitors tended to have completed higher education. Overall, people appreciated that the event gave them the opportunity to make themselves a picture of robotics and some teenagers got encouraged to learn more about it. We conclude by presenting our lessons learned and make suggestions to help others with organizing public robotic events.
This paper addresses the problem of adequately protecting flying robots from damage resulting from collisions that may occur when exploring constrained and cluttered environments. A method for designing protective structures to meet the specific constraints of flying systems is presented and applied to the protection of a small coaxial hovering platform. Protective structures in the form of Euler springs in a tetrahedral configuration are designed and optimised to elastically absorb the energy of an impact while simultaneously minimizing the forces acting on the robot’s stiff inner frame. These protective structures are integrated into a 282 g hovering platform and shown to consistently withstand dozens of collisions undamaged.
The introduction of technology in the public school teaching process could help increasing the weak motivation we can observe toward engineering studies. To achieve this goal, one main obstacle is motivating public school teachers to use technological tools in their teaching activity. In this paper we present how to use a large public robotic festival to introduce such educational tools to teachers. A survey made among the teachers helps in understanding their expectations in this particular context and the potential impact of this action, giving hints on how to run this type of activity.
Neurological patients with impaired upper limbs often receive arm therapy to restore or relearn lost motor functions. During the last years robotic devices were developed to assist the patient during the training. In daily life the diversity of movements is large because the human arm has many degrees of freedom and is used as a manipulandum to interact with the environment. To support a patient during the training the amount of support should be adapted in an assist-as-needed manner. We propose a method to learn the arm support needed during the training of activities of daily living (ADL) with an arm rehabilitation robot. The model learns the performance of the patient and creates an impairment space with a radial basis function network that can be used to assist the patient together with a patient-cooperative control strategy. Together with the arm robot ARMin the learning algorithm was evaluated. The results showed that the proposed model is able to learn the required arm support for different movements during ADL training. © 2011 IEEE.